Eastern Guruma Pastoral Company

Eastern Guruma Pastoral Company (EGPC) is an Aboriginal owned and operated company established by the traditional owners Eastern Guruma, whose land surrounds Tom Price in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Building upon successful business models within the resources industry, Eastern Guruma established its Pastoral Company to develop the vision of creating opportunities for Aboriginal people in the pastoral industry. The aim of EGPC is to partner with existing Aboriginal owned pastoral stations, in order to build a collaborative Northern WA Indigenous pastoral value chain.

At the core of this business is the desire to return Aboriginal people to the pastoral industry they helped build, and to redevelop the properties into productive, commercial operations. Among its guiding principles, EGPC’s commitment to ongoing Indigenous development and positive contribution to local communities, systems, and cultures has seen opportunities within this new business model flourish. With a four stations operating in the Kimberley and motivation to develop a management hub in Pilbara for employment opportunities and training, EGPC seeks to create positive benefits to Aboriginal people from all over Western Australia.

EGPC: A Brief History

Eastern Guruma Pastoral Company began its operations on Gibb River Station in the Kimberley Region. After forming a partnership with Ngallagunda Aboriginal Corporation to restore the property to a successful cattle operation, EGPC also returned dividends for the Aboriginal people within Ngallagunda community and provided opportunities for these people to work on country and develop long-term careers within the Pastoral Industry.

In 2015 a muster of the property was completed, with 5000 cattle handled. Mickey bulls were sold and a breeder herd of 3500 remained, serving as the base to build the herd back to over 8,000 head. Employment of nearly 20 people from Ngallagunda community has since allowed the repair of fences in the paddocks closest to the homestead and community. A development plan for the property has been completed which includes 15 new water points and nearly 250km of fences to ensure the livestock can be managed effectively into a high production herd.

In 2016, EGPC partnered with Kupungarri Aboriginal Corporation to manage Mt Barnett Station adjacent to Gibb River Station. These two stations are managed alongside one another, sharing resources to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness for both entities. Members of Kupungarri community joined the workforce to carry out further fencing and infrastructure repairs at Mt Barnett. New management on Mt Barnett Station created jobs for a number of Aboriginal people in the area who have previously had little employment opportunities available to them. A clean up muster was undertaken in 2016 which provided the information for a detailed development plan to be implemented in late 2016. The plan includes installation of 150km of new fences and 10 water points, a diversification permit for some pasture improvements and rebuilding of the main yards.

Restocking the property also started in 2016 with over 1700 new breeders brought onto the property as well as a dozen stock horses. The 2017 muster will be the first in a long time with a majority of the crew coming from Kupungarri and Ngallagunda communities.

The Pilbara Region

Among the many stations of the Pastoral Company, EGPC has also been working with the Ngarla, Njamal and Karriyarra groups who represent the Pippingarra area. Together, these groups have formed a company 46 Pindan Pty Ltd to obtain a sub-lease for Pippingarra Station. As the land holds cultural significance to each of these traditional owner groups, EGPC’s development plan includes pastoral and cultural development opportunities for Pippingarra, utilising its close proximately to Port Hedland. A sub-lease from the Aboriginal lands Trust has also been obtained for development of Walagunya Station, north of Newman with ongoing discussions to involve the traditional owners in this operation.

The Kimberley Region

Eastern Guruma and Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation have created a new partnership to manage Leopold and Fairfield Stations, which are located in the Kimberley region, northwest of Fitzroy Crossing. This partnership will see two Aboriginal groups manage the stations in order to build breeder heard of up to 20,000 across the properties, and continue to create employment opportunities and a positive environment for the Bunuba people to both work in and be a part of.

The Bunuba people have owned Leopold Downs since 1991, and acquired the adjoining Fairfield Downs in 1995. Over the past 4 years these stations have been leased to a major beef producer; the stations have a combined size of 404,648 hectares, with current stock on the properties including 4,000 breeders on Leopold Downs, and 5,500 weaners currently agisted on Fairfield Downs.

This new partnership will allow Bunuba people to own and manage Fairfield and Leopold stations with the management experience, support, and guidance of Eastern Guruma. By creating local employment and supporting remote community, Eastern Guruma and Bunuba hope to improve the economic prospects and strengthen cultural ties to the land for Bunuba and other Aboriginal people in these areas.

Across the vast expanse of the Kimberley, Eastern Guruma Pastoral Company employs 39 people across its operations, mostly Aboriginal people who live in the communities on these stations, with further jobs created on a seasonal basis for mustering and other activities. Work in remote areas has been subsidised through the Remote Jobs and Communities Program, allowing EGPC to provide seasonal work to a larger number of Aboriginal people within these remote areas. Full-time work has also been provided for a number of Aboriginal people, including management roles and other pastoral roles. Our intention is to further develop these opportunities as the business continues to grow, and provide further training and career paths for Aboriginal people with the pastoral industry.

Commitment to Ongoing Development

Eastern Guruma is leading the way in career development and opportunity for traditional landowners in the Resources industry. Having developed a reputation for Indigenous training and career progression, Eastern Guruma has been able to employ 54% Indigenous people across its businesses, many of whom hold leadership and management positions, as well as participate in traineeships and local employment within the civil and mining area. EGPC aims to build upon on these achievements and further provide development opportunities for Indigenous people with the Pastoral Industry in the future.